Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development

Examine the vast human and environmental challenges confronting northeast Brazil, and learn about social justice initiatives

offered by SIT Study Abroad

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Please visit our website for more information. The Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development study abroad program examines local socioeconomic conditions and the impact of local development efforts and public policy on lives and livelihoods in northeastern Brazil. In addition to thematic coursework and field study in Fortaleza, students participate in educational excursions throughout the region and observe various community-based programs seeking to foster social, political, and economic improvement. The program consists of three phases: a seven-week homestay in Fortaleza, a two-week period during which students participate in educational excursions throughout northeastern Brazil, and a month-long period during which students focus on an Independent Study Project (ISP). Each phase of the program introduces students to different experiences with, and perspectives on, social justice in Brazil. Fortaleza During their homestay in Fortaleza, students attend lectures and seminars on topics such as globalization and its impact on third world societies, neoliberalism as an economic model, social movements in Brazil and Latin America, and Afro Brazilian religions and culture. Students are immersed in Portuguese language study through intensive language classes and daily interaction with their host families. This seven-week period helps acclimate students to Brazilian culture and familiarizes them with the social and political atmosphere of the region. Field Study The Research Methods and Ethics course focuses on the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Material includes: Appropriate methodologies Field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy Developing skills in observation and interviewing Gathering, organizing, and communicating data Assigned papers provide an opportunity for students to test the tools introduced during the course while providing occasions for discussions on ethics and intercultural readings. Throughout the course, students work to properly develop their research topics for their Independent Study Project. Students significantly advance their initial ideas, assumptions, and drafts, in close consultation with their academic director. Independent Study Project In the final month of the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development program students complete an Independent Study Project (ISP), which provides each student an opportunity to pursue original research on a community, situation, or topic related to Brazilian culture, development, and social justice. Each student selects an ISP advisor from among the outstanding array of researchers and professionals affiliated with the program. The ISP is conducted in Fortaleza or, by arrangement, in another area of northeastern Brazil. Sample topics for the ISP include: Agrarian reform in the state of Ceará and the northeast The changing role of women in Brazilian society Migratory trends and demographic impact Economic and social plight of favela dwellers Urbanization and economic development Social action among youth Class issues in Ceará Afro Brazilian religion and culture After the semester ends, students are encouraged to continue studying some aspect of their ISP, and ISPs have frequently served as the basis for senior theses, successful grant proposals, graduate-level research, and fellowships. Past participants of the program have launched NGOs and organized fundraisers for social justice organizations in Brazil.


  • Portuguese Language Literature And Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Social Justice
  • Sustainable Development
  • Sociology


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